Monday, September 17, 2007

3 Headed Monster

Michel Therrien has been using Jordan Staal as the 3rd line center throughout camp and says he plans on keeping him there. Staal has been playing with Ryan Malone and Colby Armstrong on his wings.

The significance? Those three represent 3/4 of the Penguins regular penalty killing forwards from last season (Maxime Talbot, of course being the other).

The Penguins don't have a great line like R. Niedermayer/Pahlsson/Moen to matchup and shutdown the opposition's top guns. Really, in recent memory there hasn't even been a defensive minded dominant forward in a mold of Keith Primeau, Rod Brind'Amour or Mike Fisher. Certainly these players are rare, but a line of Malone-Staal-Armstrong might be a starting point.

What could this mean for the forwards? Most had Jordan Staal pencilled in as a top 6 winger. Now, based on pure skill there's still Mark Recchi, Petr Sykora and Erik Christensen. Gary Roberts is not a 4th liner, but his body doesn't seem to hold up for 82 games on a top line anymore. Enter stage left, Angelo Esposito?

A lot will depend on how he can do during pre-season, but if Espo plays well, it wouldn't shock me if the Pens tried him out a little with Crosby or Malkin. This isn't a team afraid to let young talent develop in the NHL, and so far the plan has worked pretty well, hasn't it?

Conventional lines (aka close to what they really look like):

So crazy it just might work idea:

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